Junk foods continue to be advertised to children, ten years on from the introduction of industry codes.
It's no surprise to us, but Kinder Surprise targeted kids with an interactive game on a digital billboard.
A complaint submitted by a community member was found in breach of the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI). The concerned complainant came across an interactive digital billboard advertising Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs in a Sydney shopping mall.
The advertisement involved an interactive game with colourful images and childlike music that required the user to touch moving eggs to reveal a surprise toy and collect points. There was an age-gate disclaimer ‘by touching play you are confirming you are 14 years or over’, however this could be easily overridden.
Ferrero argued that the Interactive Panel was targeted at adults who had kids aged 3-8 years, despite the theme, visuals and simplistic language used being very childlike. They said the aim was merely to catch the attention of adult shoppers and act as a reminder and engagement with the game was not expected. Which raises the question, why not have a static billboard rather than invest in the expensive task of developing a game?
The Billboard had a lens installed that scanned biometric data; although Ferrero said only 5% of those who engaged with the Billboard were children. Most people would be unaware their data is being collected and powerful information provided to food marketers. On the flip-side, maybe this technology could be used to ‘lock out’ children from playing these advergames.
The RCMI does not include billboards. However, the Board acknowledged that the RCMI was last updated in 2014 and that the nature of advertising is rapidly evolving, therefore the interactive content of the ad was more like an interactive game which falls within the scope of the RCMI.
The Board agreed that the ad content was clearly targeted at small children. Ferrero submitted that the game itself promotes physical activity as they would need to jump to touch the moving eggs, therefore not in breach of the RCMI. However, common sense prevailed and the Board ruled that Kinder Surprise chocolate does not represent healthier dietary choices and therefore upheld the complaint.
Complaint reference number: 0347/17